Anti-wind, climate denying crusader behind Leyonhjelm RET campaign | RenewEconomy

Anti-wind, climate denying crusader behind Leyonhjelm RET campaign

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Senator leading charge to kill renewables is advised by former head of one of Australia’s most notorious climate science-denying, anti-wind NGOs.

DLP Senator David Leyonhjelm
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Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm, who is leading the new conservative push to kill Australia’s renewable energy target, is being advised by the former head of one of Australia’s most notorious climate denying and anti-wind groups.

DLP Senator David Leyonhjelm
DLP Senator David Leyonhjelm

Leyonhjelm, a self-described “libertarian”, is being advised Max Rheese – the former long-serving executive director of the Australian Environment Foundation – a spin off of the ultra-conservative think-tank, the Institute of Public Affairs.

The AEF describes itself as an “environmental NGO”, but it disputes the science of climate change. And it hates wind energy, urging all its supporters to attend the anti-wind rallies held last year in Canberra, which were hosted by conservative shock jock Alan Jones, the man who elicited the “wind farms are utterly offensive” comments from Treasurer Joe Hockey.

For a taste of what this environmental group thinks about climate science, see this speech in 2010 by then chairman Alex Stuart. One quote: “There is no link between man-made trace greenhouse gases and scenarios of climate catastrophe.” He labels such theories as “catastrophist” and are aimed at “reining in mankind.”

The AEF is also virulently anti-wind. Its web-site is almost entirely devoted to anti-wind stories. For a taste of what Rheese says about wind farms, this opinion piece is informative.


In it, Rheese describes the “fallacious myths perpetrated by those who believe wind power will save the planet”, slams doctors for rejecting the alleged health impacts of wind farms (numerous studies have failed to find any), and praises anti-wind senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon.

Mike Barnard, in his piece, Fourteen wind energy myths debunked, said that on 9 May, 2011, Rheese, attempted to set a new record on Radio National’s conservative Counterpoint program in Australia. He managed 14 whoppers about wind energy in Australia in 17 short minutes.

This might go some way to partially explaining the anti-renewables position of Leyonhjelm, who has succeeded not just in getting yet another wind inquiry in the Senate, but is also proposing re-writing the rules of the RET that will deliver a windfall to decades-old hydro generators, and effectively stop new investment.

The AEF – led by Rheese – also sponsored the launch of the Australian Climate Science Coalition, which refers to climate change as the “global warming hoax”.

Rheese argues that: “Australia’s great competitive advantage is low-cost power from low-cost coal. It would be irresponsible to throw it away when grave questions surround the case for doing so.” In that, he seems pretty close to Tony Abbott and the rest of the coalition.

Sourcewatch described the AEF as a “front group” for the IPA, and noted its initial board included the IPA’s environment chief Jennifer Marohasy, a noted climate science denier, and Mike Nahan, the former head of the IPA who has since risen to become energy minister and treasurer in the WA state government.

Nahan once described AEF as “pro-biotechnology, pro-nuclear power, pro-modern farming, pro-economic growth, pro-business and pro-environment.” The AEF is pro-forestry, anti marine reserve, and Nahan once said there were more than enough whales for the whaling industry to survive. He said the environment was in the best shape it had every been.

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  1. Chris Fraser 6 years ago

    We so needed Senator Leyonhjelm to be different to the Coalition. Now we know better.

  2. GaryDoggett 6 years ago

    Deniers, whiners, infidels…enough already! Here’s the problem. Let’s start looking at solutions!

    • john 6 years ago

      the problem is that No one cares further more if it is 1+ 1 they do not know how to add it up we are honestly run by morons sad I know sad fact and yes it is just a little bit annoying.
      How to fix it ?
      Bit hard mate as most people only care about me no idea that they should care about anyone else; just ask yourself how many people do you know who actually care about anyone else ?
      But this is what it takes to change our way of living and that is going to be a very, very hard road to go.

    • Kai 6 years ago

      There are NO solutions! You can’t put the carbon back under ground! It took the earth over 400,000 years to store the carbon we released in 100 years!

  3. Rob G 6 years ago

    Nut jobs like this don’t deserve air time. He is very much in the minority.

  4. john 6 years ago

    Is it not grand we can elect Idiots to power just have a look at the new ones and the old ones for that matter we are really governed by a mob of low level people

    • John Humphreys 6 years ago

      There are many stupid people in parliament and that will always be true. That is why only stupid people think that the government should control our lives with perpetual mandates, bans, taxes, subsidies, and regulations.

      Thankfully, David Leyonhjelm is smarter than most, which means he’s smart enough to know that he (+225 others) should not try to micromanage our lives. He’s also smart enough to use punctuation. You should try it.

      • Clayton Drury 6 years ago

        Hi John,

        I think the take-away from this article is that David Leyonhjelm is being advised by a liar who is most likely mis-representing the truth to Mr. Leyonhjelm. He would do himself and the country a favour by choosing his advisors more carefully, wouldn’t you say?

      • john 6 years ago

        Point taken, re. punctuation.
        My apologies.

      • David Smith 6 years ago

        The main unfortunate side effect of this philosophy is that, if governments do not manage the country for the benefit of the people, then businesses will manage it for the benefit of the shareholders. A key question is “who is funding the IPA? Who is funding the deniers?”

        • Johnny Websters 6 years ago

          Excellent point, that’s where libertarianism breaks down. Just as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, libertarianism will reduce the average citizen to a feudal serf.

  5. johnnewton 6 years ago

    If you’ve read Lyinghelm in The Land, you know he’s a very bad human being. What I’m curious about is the usually sane Xenophon being in bed with the nutters. Anyone explain?

  6. John Humphreys 6 years ago

    In the photo caption, you refer to David Leyonhlem as a “DLP Senator” and in the article you refer to him as an independent. Neither is true. He represents the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which is Australia’s only libertarian political party.

    If you did some research you would find that libertarians want to decrease the role of government. Therefore it should be thoroughly unsurprising to you that David is pushing legislation that will decrease the role of government.

    Of course, if you believe that politicians and bureaucrats are more moral and intelligent than us lumpenprols then I can understand why you would advocate for more government micromanagement… which would explain why you are so hostile to the only libertarian in parliament.

    • Clayton Drury 6 years ago

      Hi John,
      It seems to me that the proposal by the LDP will actually lead to increased revenue to the hydro power companies, which, of course, are government owned. If the LDP are libertarians, why are they proposing legislation that will lead to larger government? Additionally, watering down the RET will lead to higher power prices for consumers. Is this a good thing?
      If the RET is wound back it means that we will need to fork out more money for Direct Action so that we can meet our international obligations. How does Direct Action fit in with the LDP’s platform? It sounds pretty anti-libertarian to me.

      • Turtle of Australia 5 years ago

        Do some fact checking. Not a put down. Just check your facts.

    • Chris Turnbull 6 years ago

      Day is also a libertarian and hence, no surprise he has allied with the LDP. Family First were, I believe, originally fundamentalist Christian right-wing, but are now a bunch of libertarians with little pretence to care for their inappropriate party title.

    • Rick Johnson 6 years ago

      The author has got no idea what he is talking about. This is just a rant without substance.

  7. Leigh Ryan 6 years ago

    Leave Global Warming out of the argument and argue for the differing technologies on their own merits, we want cheaper better quality power at the lowest possible cost delivered to all Australians regardless of location, city or rural, if that results in less greenhouse gas in the atmosphere then that’s a bonus.
    This country is committed to the ideal of free trade, but first we must have it within our own borders and not be protecting and subsidizing those who have no agenda other than protecting their own profits and keeping out any form of competition.

    • Turtle of Australia 5 years ago

      What is cheaper than fossil fuels?

  8. John McKeon 6 years ago

    Leyonhjelm … a “libertarian” in what sense??? He is not interested in supporting the economy of the 21st century, but he is happy to support the 19th century economy that still has us in the FOSSIL FOOL’S PRISON. What an &^%$ing disappointment he is.

    • Sly Gryphon 6 years ago

      @John McKeon, he is libertarian in the sense that the party he represents, the Liberal Democrats (LDP) are a classical liberal party.

      Regarding fossil fuels, part of the party’s energy policy states “The price of energy must take account of its ‘whole of life’ costs and should not transfer any costs to others through any means other than price.”. This means that the costs of climate change compensation and adaption, if negotiated (like the current $500m per year we pay) or imposed by court, should be passed on to those causing the damage.

      This does not mean, however, that we should then be picking winners or losers among other forms of energy. Hydro, wind, solar and nuclear should be all free to compete (with fossil fuels — perhaps even with paying compensation for the costs of climate change/adaption they could still be cheaper).

  9. Harry Verberne 6 years ago

    Giles, as the best sign that this site has some clout and credibility is the increased level of deniers now infesting it.

    • Turtle of Australia 5 years ago

      What is a ‘denier’? Is it the same as a ‘holocaust denier’?

      • Barri Mundee 5 years ago

        You are clearly a denier. One who is not informed by science but more by ideology or to spread misinformation in the pay of vested interests.

        Clear enough for you?

        • Turtle of Australia 5 years ago

          Thankyou, very clear. No need to be rude.
          And my second question?

        • Turtle of Australia 5 years ago

          So can you tell me what deniers and believers disagree about?

    • Hoss Rider 5 years ago

      Lol…..yep, nothing like a partisan site for midgets.

  10. JPeron 6 years ago

    None of this makes wind power a good means of producing energy. Nor does it make one a “denier” to say wind power is not the best idea. We’re taking our property solar next year because it is cheaper and less destructive than wind turbines.

    • Hoss Rider 5 years ago

      – I don’t think that the inhabitants here are much interested in the rational
      thought of an individual who chooses necessity as the mother for their invention. I particularly like most parts of the article
      that attribute guilt by association. I’m
      sure that lots of people out there might also disagree with the high
      sensitivity based computer science, philosophy and company that the author
      keeps as well, without the need to write about such in disparaging terms that
      are of little or no significance to anyone over the age of 3.

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